One of my favorite weekends at church is Connection Weekend.
Connection Weekend is when young children and adults come together to serve in different service projects in their community. It is a great opportunity to invite families to see the needs of others around them and contribute together to a greater purpose outside of their everyday routine in life. In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus gives us the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and then He calls us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The greatest commandment applies to even our youngest members.By creating opportunities for the church to serve, we give our children a place where they can express God’s love for the people in our community and to be part of God’s mission in the world. Click To Tweet
To host a Connection Weekend you can partner with organizations that build homes for the low income families, local foodbanks, emergency housing for single moms, homeless soup kitchens, nursing homes, or hospitals. The possibilities are endless – but the most effective partnerships happen when projects are closely aligned with causes that reflect the values of the church and its volunteers. These service opportunities not only meet tangible needs within communities but also provide a sacred space for participating kids and parents to share life in a meaningful way through connecting with each other as they work towards a common goal to help others. The beauty of these powerful moments is that they happen organically.There is something to be said about serving that invites us all to an equal plane of humility, which a typical “church program” cannot provide. Click To Tweet
On one particular Connection Weekend at our church, we had the opportunity to build a home for a family in need. Our younger participants ranged from preschoolers to teenagers, and everyone had an essential contribution to make. In serving together, our families became one big family with one same purpose in mind – to serve God through helping a family in need. Young children helped with painting and took on the important job of delivering water and snacks to the group. Teenagers with tool belts hanging from their waists eagerly hammered away at every available nail. Moms and dads guided and taught other kids as well about how to use tools, how to be safe, and how to work as a team throughout the weekend.
Not only was a house being built, but a bigger family was being created as we laughed together and shared our life stories. We had teens who just needed to be loved, cared for, and affirmed by other grownups, and their parents were thankful for this investment into their children by others. Together we prayed, blessed, and even cried for the family we were building a home for, and our church family was able to share one heart in worship and in service. Instead of dividing up to go to our own age-appropriate services, we all experienced God communally in these shared moments. Our individual families became one big family with a singular purpose in mind, to serve God by helping a family in need.
The relationships we built during Connection Weekend continued even after the event. One of the greatest developments from that time are the growth groups that the participating families created afterwards. These groups invited other families to dinners and BBQs, started doing life together, and continue to serve together during other Connection Weekends. For many of our kids and teens, church became a place where they belonged and felt more at home because of the relationships that grew from interactions with other caring adults in the church over that weekend.By creating opportunities to serve God in our community, we are not only able to strengthen ties with our neighbors, but within our churches and particularly with our children as well. Click To Tweet
As the kids experience this type of investment into people, they will also witness the love of God firsthand and be better able to express that love to others.